Tesla’s Q3 earnings call announced last week revealed that the automaker fell short of its revenue forecasts and missed the mark on its estimated earnings per share. Elon Musk attributed its missed projections to significant Cybertruck production issues, high interest rates, and consumer sentiment – all of which left investors feeling pessimistic as Tesla’s stock plummeted following the call.

According to ongoing CivicScience tracking, favorability toward Tesla has remained relatively consistent over the last year. During Q3, though, the percentage unfavorable to the EV maker eclipsed the percentage favorable by a considerable gap. Twenty-eight percent of polled respondents said they disliked Tesla in August and September, compared to 25% who said they loved/liked Tesla during that same time period. However, we could see favorability rebound in Q4, as 27% are favorable to the automaker as of October 23.

Tesla Consumer Perceptions

At the same time, consumer perceptions of Tesla are changing as more automakers enter the EV market. In particular, 49% of U.S. adults consider Tesla to be the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles – down from 53% in January (CivicScience monthly averages). Instead, consumers are more likely to have grown unsure about Tesla’s prominence in the EV market (29%, compared to 24% in January). It’s worth noting, though, that the percentage who disagree that Tesla is currently the leading EV manufacturer stands slightly lower today at 22%, compared to 24% in January. 

These findings align with CivicScience data from earlier this year showing that EV intenders were far more likely to be planning to buy an electric vehicle from Toyota compared to Tesla.

Electric Vehicle Consumer Perceptions

Consumer perceptions toward EVs are changing in general – a key element in the equation, as CivicScience data consistently show that attitudes shift before behaviors do. Ongoing tracking indicates that a growing number of Americans don’t expect electric vehicles to become more prevalent in the next few years. As of October, 53% of U.S. adults think EVs will be ‘niche’ (compared to 48% this time last year), while 35% believe they’ll be ‘prevalent’ (compared to 40% in October 2022). The percentage who answered ‘common’ has remained relatively consistent around 11-12%. 

3 Additional Tesla Consumer Insights:

  • Those who consider themselves an ‘active trader’ or ‘long-term investor’ are roughly twice as likely to be favorable toward Tesla cars as those who define themselves as an ‘occasional trader.’
  • As Musk warned of upcoming cybertruck challenges, CivicScience data show that 8% of polled respondents have put a deposit down for the Cybertruck or plan to, 20% say they like it but don’t plan to buy one, and 33% are not interested in the EV truck. Instead, consumers are most likely to say they haven’t seen the truck yet (39%).
  • When it comes to intent to buy a Tesla in the next year, 7% of U.S. adults say they’re ‘extremely likely’ to purchase one and another 9% are ‘somewhat likely.’ Interestingly, those with a household income under $50,000 a year are most likely to be at least ‘somewhat likely’ to purchase. 

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